“Gen Z” refers to anyone born between 1997 and 2012. Today’s Gen Z kids range in age from 9 (still a kid) to 24 (a young adult). Anyone born during this time frame grew up once internet access and cell phones had already become accessible. For reference, the oldest Gen Z kids would have been 10 years old when the first iPhone came out in 2007. The youngest weren’t even born yet.
Every generation flourishes and struggles in different ways, and the time frame during which they are raised makes a huge difference. The political climate, the advances in technology, the advances in medicine, the common means of communication, and the latest parenting trends all play a role in developing a generation of people. Each generation faces unique fears and stress along with unique opportunities. Gen Z has undoubtedly been raised -and is being raised- differently than any preceding generation.
At Sundance Canyon Academy, all of our current students are part of Gen Z. As such, our therapists are aware of the mental health struggles common to this age group. They are trained in various therapeutic techniques to address those struggles. We work with both our students and their parents to understand this generation’s unique challenges to help them grow into successful, well-balanced adults.
Challenges unique to Gen Z
One of the most significant differences between Gen Z and the previous generations is a combination of technology and communication. However, the stress of today’s social and political climate also impacts Gen Z much differently than it did for previous generations.
Technology and communication
Since people born during the Gen Z years have grown up with internet access and cell phones, they are much more connected to technology than previous generations. The older Gen Z members were raised as smartphones were being developed and were becoming more accessible, but they adapted quickly. As they’ve progressed into adulthood, technology has evolved with them, and they’re accustomed to doing a lot of social transactions online rather than in-person.
Younger Gen Z members have grown up with smartphones, tablets, YouTube channels specifically for kids, streaming TV, satellite radio, movies on demands, social media apps, and so much more.
For most Gen Z members, having access to the internet via Wi-Fi or a data plan is pretty much a given. This is great because they can get the most up-to-date information, connect with friends and family, and explore new interests.
However, it also comes with a price. Gen Z has developed some unique challenges as a result of the constantly present technology.
Dependence on social media apps to stay connected with friends and feel valued by their peers.
Feeling self-conscious when communicating with people in-person or over the phone.
Preference for communicating with new people (Ex: banking, scheduling doctor visits, inquiring about a job, etc.) online and hesitating or postponing the conversation if it must be done in person or over the phone.
Experiencing social isolation from spending so much time on social media rather than making genuine, real-life connections.
According to the American Psychological Association, Gen Z is more likely to be stressed about news and gun violence issues than Millenials, Gen X, or Baby Boomers.
Approximately 75% of Gen Z members reported some level of stress around mass shootings. The older Gen Z members were only one or two years old when the Columbine school shooting took place, and as they’ve grown up, they’ve seen footage from numerous other school shootings and mass shootings. Many students in this age group have grown up doing active shooter drills to prepare for the day when they might have to hide from a shooter. No other generation has had to do those drills while they were in grade school.
Social and political issues are another significant source of stress for Gen Z. With the advancement of smartphones and social media, Gen Z has constant access to news stories and countless opinions on those stories. Previous generations did not have access to as much information at such a young age and didn’t worry about so many diverse issues.
Results of Gen Z challenges
Gen Z members report higher levels of stress and higher levels of loneliness than their counterparts. This is leading to some alarming results.
Some results of the unique Gen Z challenges include:
According to a report from CNN, Gen Z is more likely to report mental health problems than any other generation. They cite worry over gun violence and political concerns as a major source of stress and anxiety.
Suicide rates in people ages 10-24 have increased 57.4% from 2007-2018.
Fortunately, though they report more mental health concerns than older generations, Gen Z is also more likely to seek mental health treatment.
If you are concerned that your son is experiencing a lot of stress or struggles to connect with others, consider therapeutic intervention. Residential treatment centers for troubled teens give the students a chance to take a break from everyday stress and focus on building resiliency. Unlike military schools and bootcamps, therapeutic schools focus on understanding and addressing underlying issues.
Contact us today to learn more about our programs for troubled teen boys.